El Hadji Diouf, The Bad Boy of Football Who is a Lion

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El Hadji Ousseynou Diouf is one of Africa’s finest talents who made a striking mark in the football world, especially when he together with his fellow Senegalese teammates defeated France, the then World Cup defending champions at the 2002 World Cup opener in Japan and South Korea, which was Senegal’s first appearance. His stellar performances in the tournament for Senegal, where they reached the quarter finals, led to much anticipation for his arrival at Liverpool. In fact, he was the player whom the then Liverpool coach Gérard Houllier wanted, to help Liverpool wrestle the Premier League title from Manchester United.
Diouf initially began well with life in England but later fazed out, becoming unpopular due to both his attitude and lack of goal. Something which made Jamie Carragher to say this of him, “He has one of the worst strike rates of any forward in Liverpool history. He’s the only no. 9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring. In fact he’s probably the only no. 9 of any club to do that. He was always the last one to get picked in training.”
His attitude was worrying that Houllier told him, “The stigma of what you did will follow you round for the rest of your career. You’ll never live it down”. El Hadji Diouf had developed a spitting image, offered more of controversial antics in and off-field than football talent; he was in fact, regarded as the bad boy of football during his active days.
Rebuffing this bad boy image, Diouf reflected on his combative mood during his active days, saying to BBC Sport, “I am a lion, I am a bad loser and it’s not wrong to be a bad loser.” Indeed, Diouf was a lion. He was, however, an easy target but never gave in; knowing within that he is a good guy.
His drawn-out row with former Liverpool team-mates such as Jamie Carragher and especially, Steven Gerrard stood out throughout his career. However, he refused to be overwhelmed, stressing on his lion heart as he said to BBC Sport, “He [Gerrard] is a strong character and I am a strong character. Stevie G’ was a very good player. People like him in Liverpool but he never did anything for his country. I am Mr El Hadji Diouf, Mr Senegal but he is Mr Liverpool and Senegal is bigger than Liverpool and he has to know that.” A claim reiterated by the fact that Diouf was a two-time African footballer of the year.
Diouf has retired from football now and is working in Senegal as a government goodwill ambassador. According to BBC Sport, “He is President Macky Sall’s adviser on sport as well as running his own sports newspaper business in Dakar – and is often mobbed by young people when he visits his gym in the city.”
His football personality will be surely missed but he will no doubt, remain a lion which many African football lovers regard him as.

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